Students pursuing undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degrees in the sports medicine field have several career opportunities that they can select form. Coursework in degree programs in sports medicine is delivered through a combination of hands on instruction and class work relating to healthcare, physical activity and human movement.
Sports Medicine Bachelor Degree
An undergraduate degree in sports medicine serves to open up many career options in allied healthcare. Rehabilitation services, preventative care and guidance are provided by graduates to individuals who are physically active. Undergraduate degree in sports medicine and related subjects such as athletic training and exercise science are offered by some public and private colleges and universities.
Admission criteria to colleges or universities generally include a high school diploma or equivalent qualification. Those seeking admission into a sports medicine undergraduate degree program need to fulfill requirements that differ from program to program. Some programs require candidates to have spent a specific number of hours working in a professional setting under a certified athletic trainer, in addition to holding certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid and completing specific courses.
Students in sports medicine undergraduate degree programs receive a combination of class work and hands on training through internship programs. Hands-on training is also provided through assistance within the athletic departments at some schools as well as at the campus health and wellness centers. Coursework includes Common athlete medical conditions, Therapeutic modalities, Nutrition, Sport psychology, First aid, Exercise physiology, Weight training techniques, Health and exercise science, and Kinesiology.
An undergraduate degree program in sports medicine will not assure students a career in the field, but will only act as a mode of preparation for a graduate degree program. Most employers prefer candidates to hold master degrees. However, bachelor degree holders can seek entry level occupations such as Fitness instructor, Personal trainer, Physical education teacher or Coach.
Certification for sports medicine professionals are offered by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The validation of a professional’s education and expertise is assisted through voluntary credentials. Some ACSM certifications include those relating to the Certified Health Fitness Specialist, Certified Group Exercise Instructor and Certified Personal Trainer.
Sports Medicine Master Degree
Many sports medicine careers require master degrees. The degree program, usually offered as a Master of Science, lasts two years. Sports medicine knowledge is imparted to students through the conduct and critique of research. Students are allowed at some schools to select concentration areas within the field such as athletic training and strength conditioning.
A bachelor degree is normally a prerequisite for admission to a master degree program. Students with an undergraduate degree in a major that is not related to sports medicine may have to undergo specific courses before they are allowed admission.
Coursework in sports medicine master degree program is delivered as a combination of classroom instruction, participation in research projects and practical training. Students could qualify for graduate assistantship positions that will open up the opportunity for on-campus learning and practice of athletic training and rehabilitation services. Coursework often includes Biomechanics, Advanced exercise physiology, Biostatistics, Musculoskeletal injury, Human movement, Strength and conditioning theories and methods, Epidemiology, and Injury prevention.
Salary and Employment Outlook
A sports medicine graduate can seek an athletic trainer position. Job growth for athletic training positions has been projected to increase thirty-seven percent during the period from 2008 to 2018 (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) www.bls.gov). Most job openings are available in sport and recreational facilities, fitness and healthcare settings. High schools have been reported to employ more athletic trainers (BLS). In May 2010, athletic trainers earned an average annual salary of $44,030 (BLS). Recreational facilities, health practitioner offices, hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, postsecondary schools were among the most common employers.
State licensure and certification from the Board of Certification Inc. are general requirements for athletic trainers, regardless of the state they plan to work in. If any state does not require such licensure or certification, athletic trainers can volunteer for board certification or obtain certification from other professional credentialing agencies such as the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Graduate degree holders can seek ACSM’s Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification.
Sports Medicine Doctoral Degree
Students who want to teach at a university or research positions can pursue continued education by applying for admission to a doctoral program. Coursework often focuses on research and students usually choose a concentrated area related to sports medicine such as sports management, exercise nutrition or biomechanics. Students usually need to study full-time for four years to complete the program.
Admission requirements vary by programs. However, admission criteria to most doctoral programs include specific undergraduate studies in sports medicine or exercise science, or a master degree. Preference could be given to students who are certified physical therapists or athletic trainers.
Apart from classroom lessons, doctoral students are often imparted training in laboratory settings including research projects conducted at campus labs. They can also attend regularly held seminars and get research assistantship position opportunities. Class and research topics could include Athletic injury care, Epidemiological methods, Multivariate statistics, Athlete eating disorders, Sports medicine laboratory techniques and Clinical biomechanics.